The Best Of Both Worlds: Best Modular Motorcycle Helmets

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

The protection of a full-face, with the convenience of an open-face

Like most things in life, we can’t always have everything we want. The same principle holds true with motorcycle helmets. For ultimate protection, full-face helmets are the way to go. But sometimes the ease and convenience of an open-face is really hard to pass up. What’s a motorcyclist to do if he or she wants both? Thank goodness modular motorcycle helmets exist. Offering both full-face protection with open-face convenience, modular helmets are a compromise everyone can live with. Here, we’ve gathered some of the top modular motorcycle helmets available today from a variety of manufacturers.

Table of Contents

1. Editor's Choice: AGV Sportmodular

A game-changing modular that could easily pass as a sport helmet if you didn’t know better, the AGV Sportmodular is built entirely from carbon fiber. This makes it one of the lightest helmets on the market, modular or otherwise. It fits tight like a sport helmet, too, with a removable and reversible inner liner allowing the rider to choose the side that’s best for the conditions. The visor accepts Pinlock 120 inserts for premium anti-fog capabilities, and there’s a drop-down sun visor built-in. The shield itself is interchangeable without tools. Three shell sizes cover the full range of XS-3XL helmet sizes, and five-density EPS helps minimize injury in a crash. Modulars lend themselves well to communicators, and the Sportmodular is no different, as it comes equipped with recessed pockets to accept a communicator. Overall, we’re happy with the Sportmodular’s performance. Read more about it in our full review.

2. Bell SRT-Modular

The Bell SRT-Modular (not to be confused with the non-modular SRT) provides nearly all the protection features anyone short of a hardcore racer could want, with the convenience street riders will love. The SRT modular is constructed from a lightweight fiberglass composite shell in one of two sizes, XS-L and XL-3XL. Pockets for communicators are built into the EPS protective layer, and the anti-bacteria comfort liner is removable and washable to help prevent helmet funk that can develop in hot weather riding. The liner is also eyewear compatible, which means you can wear your prescription glasses or your favorite shades without pain. Other features include a drop-down sun visor, Panovision face shield with class one optics, and a price that won’t break the bank.

3. Shark EVO One 2

The name is definitely odd, but the Shark Evo One 2 is also the most unique of the helmets on this list. This is because, unlike the other modulars here, the Evo One 2’s chin bar rotates nearly 180º when flipped open. Plus, when the chin bar is opened, the primary faceshield also rotates to the closed position, resulting in the image you see above. Moreso than any other helmet here, you get the option of either a full-face or ¾ helmet. The shell is made from injected thermoplastic resin and is available in two shell sizes to accommodate sizes XS-XL (sorry to those with big noggins, XL is as high as it goes). Otherwise, the Shark has features you expect in modulars: a drop down sun visor, compact/aerodynamic profile, double D-ring chin strap, integrated chin curtain, and a Pinlock-ready shield. In fact, a Pinlock insert is included in the box. If the Evo One 2 sounds appealing to you, be aware Shark helmets typically favor those with round oval head shapes.

4. Simpson MOD Bandit

The Shark Evo One 2 may be unique, but the Simpson MOD Bandit is badass with its classic, unmistakable design. Shell options include either a tri-composite blend or carbon fiber, with a polycarbonate alloy chin bar. The chin bar itself has the ability to be locked in the open position, and the locking components themselves are metal for durability. Multiple intake vents along the top and bottom of the helmet promote wind flow, and exhaust vents in the rear help extract warm air. As expected, the MOD Bandit is ready to accept communication systems, and comes equipped with a removable, washable, hypoallergenic/anti-microbial inner liner. A drop-down sun visor is standard, though different tints for the drop-down visor are available. Available in white, black, flat black, or carbon, the MOD Bandit is DOT/ECE certified.

5. Shoei Neotec II

Arguably the preferred helmet of our very own Evans Brasfield, the Shoei Neotec II is almost always on Evans’ head. He’s even gone so far as to call it his favorite street helmet. To borrow from his review, “According to Shoei, the Neotec II’s shape was optimized in the company’s wind tunnel to reduce lift and drag at elevated speeds. Since different motorcycles have different riding positions, the Neotec II’s shape was tuned to account for a wide variety of orientations towards the wind. For example, the design of the top air outlet acts as a spoiler, reducing helmet lift, in an upright riding position.” From a construction standpoint, the Neotec employs Shoei’s proprietary five-ply matrix shell with hand-laid interwoven layers of fiberglass mixed with organic fibers and resins. There’s consistent shell thickness throughout for optimum protection no matter which part of the helmet takes an impact. The multi-piece, varying density EPS liner helps save weight and allows cooling air to travel through built-in tunnels directly to the head. Of course, the interior liner is fully removable, washable, replaceable, and adjustable for optimum fit and noise reduction. To that end, the Neotec II employs all-new “noise isolator” cheek pads to fit as close to the head as possible. The faceshield’s air-tight fit keeps air out, and the chinbar’s “Vortex Generator” lip manages helps direct airflow around the helmet instead of inside it. Taking the place of double D-rings, a patented stainless steel interlocking micro ratchet chin strap mechanism keeps the helmet on your head.

What is the best modular motorcycle helmet?

As long as it meets required safety regulations, any helmet is better than nothing at all. With modulars, like all helmets, a comfortable fit is the most important aspect to look for. If a helmet doesn’t fit well and leaves you feeling uncomfortable, you’re not going to wear it. And that doesn’t do you any good. The “best” helmet for you might be different for someone else based on fit, features, ventilation, field of view, or even how well the release mechanism for the chin bar works.

What do I look for in a modular motorcycle helmet?

Regardless of whether or not the helmet is a modular, the most important thing to look for is a comfortable fit. See the question above for the reasons why. Once you’ve found a comfortable modular helmet, check to see if the buttons to control the raising of the chin bar or the pop-down sun shield mechanism are easy to locate and operate with gloves on. Also, pay attention to the final location of the pop-down sun shield and how it affects your vision. Some sun shields’ bottom edge fall right into the rider’s line of sight and it can be distracting.

Are modular motorcycle helmets safe?

Well, they’re not not safe. The weakest point on a modular helmet is the pivot point for the chin bar. By definition, this makes a modular helmet more vulnerable to damage than, say, a full-face helmet – the safest type of helmet. Then again, you’ll still get more coverage than half or three-quarter helmets. Like the question above, as long as the helmet meets federal safety regulations (and even international safety regulations) there’s no reason to believe a modular helmet won’t provide a high level of protection. That said, we almost feel compelled to state no piece of safety gear can prevent all injuries or death.

Recent Updates: September, 2021: Product links updated, FAQ question added

Additional Resources

MO Tested: AGV Sportmodular Helmet

MO Tested: Shoei Neotec II Helmet + Sena SRL Communicator Review

The 10 Best Motorcycle Helmets You Can Buy Today

Best Motorcycle Helmets Under $200

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Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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2 of 11 comments
  • Allan Briskin Allan Briskin on Aug 31, 2020

    I know most responses are two years old, but I would like to add the LS2 Valiant and Valiant 2 to the mix. Like the Shark, the chin bar rotates 180 degrees and they are rated DOT and ECE. The LS2 are a little easier to use (the chin bar comes right down instead of out and back like the Shark). I use both brands and they are comfortable and relatively quiet. The only drawback with the LS2 is the lack of intermediate visor openings - it's either full open or full close. The Shark allows for various openings. Just a note that both the Shark and the LS2 use slide lock straps, not D-rings.

    • Jim L Jim L on Sep 01, 2020

      I have the strobe. My only complaint is the weight. It's very good for the money. The slide lock is easier to use too.

  • Pick Your Helmet Pick Your Helmet on Sep 10, 2021

    I think Bell is good for me